Most people are aware of the health benefits associated with eating properly. And if you’ve ever suffered from severe heartburn, you’ve probably wished you’d eaten a more balanced diet.
Americans are notorious for overindulgence when it comes to eating, with millions of restaurants across the country to prove it. But you don’t have to stop eating out or enjoying yourself if you become consciously aware of what you’re putting into your body and how it can affect you.
Heartburn can come on suddenly. And after a wonderful night out at a nice restaurant, your enjoyment could come to an excruciating end if you’re not careful with what you eat. But even though this happens quite often, there are many ways you can avoid getting heartburn.
If you’re ready to adopt healthy habits, balance your life (and your diet), and begin avoiding the pains of heartburn, the following will explore a few ways you can modify your lifestyle and keep heartburn-free.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Many studies have shown that excessive weight gain can nearly triple the risk of acid reflux and heartburn, especially in studies on women. In addition, being overweight can not only increase your chances of getting heartburn, but it can also exacerbate symptoms and make them more severe.
It all comes down to basic physics and gravity. Excess weight applying greater pressure to your stomach, causes excess stomach acid to move into the esophagus. And this is what causes the painful symptoms of heartburn. As such, losing even a few pounds can relieve pressure on the stomach and help mitigate heartburn altogether.
You also might think that taking antacids is a simple solution to managing heartburn if you’re overweight. But these medications can also hold a hidden danger.
For example, in recent years, those who have frequently taken Zantac-Ranitidine for heartburn relief have developed serious health concerns such as cancer of the stomach, bladder, and colon.
Modify Your Diet & Eating Habits
Of all the lifestyle choices you can implement for a heartburn-free life, your diet and how you eat are the most important elements to review.
It might be obvious, but certain foods are known to be catalysts for heartburn. And in addition to certain foods, the time that you eat in relation to performing other activities (such as exercise or sleep) can also become a contributing factor.
A few foods that are known to promote heartburn are as follows:
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy foods
- Whole milk
- Caffeinated drinks
- Carbonated beverages
You may notice that the above list includes many foods that most Americans consume on a daily or weekly basis, and this is why it’s estimated that approximately 60 million people suffer from heartburn symptoms each month in the United States, even with cases so severe that they prompt emergency room visits.
Stress causes the production of cortisol and other hormones that, when released, can promote heartburn. As such, taking measures to relax and reduce stress can help to alleviate or mitigate heartburn altogether.
For example, stress reduction exercises such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, or even relaxing outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, or fishing can set your body and your mind at ease, making it much easier for you to cope with stress.
Stress also increases stomach acid production, and this can ultimately lead to painful stomach ulcers if corrective actions aren’t taken. Additionally, stress and frequent heartburn can create a vicious cycle that upends your daily routine, which can make it difficult for you to cope with daily activities including work and personal relationships.
Changing Your Sleep Habits
As mentioned, changing the time that you sleep in relation to the time you eat can greatly reduce your risk of heartburn. And believe it or not, that midnight snack that you crave might be one thing to remove from your daily habits altogether.
If you eat too late at night, your stomach doesn’t have adequate time to digest food before you go to bed. And once you’re in a sleeping position and still digesting food, this can cause heartburn to manifest. As a rule of thumb, eat at least 3 hours before going to bed.
Additionally, even adjusting your sleeping position can also help to reduce heartburn. For example, those who sleep in the supine position (on the back) have more frequent bouts of heartburn than those who sleep on their sides.
The good news is, even with the simplest lifestyle changes you can live heartburn free with little effort. At the end of the day, it’s all about being proactive with your diet and adopting positive lifestyle changes.